It was more than a privilege to be part of our team from Gaylord E-Free that went to Nicaragua last week. In case you are not yet aware, our church is part of a “church-to-church” partnership through World Orphans with a small church in Managua, Nicaragua called “Verbo Sur.”
This church is led by a wonderful man named Pastor Jairo. They are located in one of the poorest communities in Managua where they also run a Child Development Center (CDC). This CDC involves academic programs for preschoolers and a safe place for elementary aged students to come to when they are not in school as their parents are at work.
The CDC also involves a feeding program where up to 150 children each day come to receive a hot, nutritious meal. This is crucial as the average child in Nicaragua only gets one meal a day at best. The CDC allows these 150 children to avoid the malnutrition and disease that runs rampant among children in this poor country.
Our partnership involves supporting Verbo Sur’s CDC each month but the key to our partnership with Verbo Sur is relational. That is why we send one, sometimes two, teams to Nicaragua each year.
In the past we asked Pastor Jairo if it would be more beneficial to send the money we spend on these trips rather than taking the trips. He insisted that our presence is what they need much more than our money. He and his staff are starved for encouragement and soak up our love and encouragement like a dry sponge while we are there.
This was especially seen in the life of Pastor Jairo’s wife. She was in desperate need of encouragement and love from a godly woman which she found in my wife. Though they could not speak the same language, they connected in a very special way. Pastor Jairo shared how much Laura’s presence met to his wife. I did not think Pastor Jairo’s wife was going to let go of Laura when we were saying our good-byes at the end of the trip.
Obviously, the most enjoyable part of the trip was spending time with these precious children which included playing with the children and doing crafts with them that we had brought with us.
I think each of us on the team was drawn to one specific child. For me it was a boy I affectionately called "onion." I couldn't understand what he said his name was but it sounded like "onion" so that is what I called him. He would come over to me and point at my water bottle and say "agua." I would then have him tilt his head and open his mouth and I would pour some water in it. We did this for hours along with playing with paper airplanes and paper footballs!
We also participated in a two day medical clinic in which 190 people (adults and children) from the community came to get free medical treatment that included doctors from Nicaragua. Each person that came had their height, weight, blood pressure and temperature checked.
They also received a “d-worming” pill due to the parasites that are in the ground and the small children also received some vitamin A.
Each person also had their blood sugar checked and met with a doctor. They then received any prescriptions they needed and everything was free. Our partnership paid for all of the medicine that was given out over these two days.
The most beautiful part of the medical clinic was watching a dear lady from the Verbo Sur church named Veronica. The last station in the clinic for adults was meeting one-on-one with Veronica who talked with them about their spiritual lives.
Veronica prayed for each one of them individually and over the two days she personally led 11 adults to Christ. When I saw her Bible I knew exactly why she was so effective. Her Bible was literally falling apart due to her excessive reading of it.
We also were part of a food distribution day. Our partnership provided rice, beans and sugar for 50 of the poorest families in the community around Verbo Sur at the invitation of the church. These families came to a program put on by the church which included a message from pastor Jairo before they were each given a bag of much needed food. Though we provided the food, everything we provide is given through the church and the staff at Verbo Sur so the people make the connection with them and not with us.
We also were part of the Sunday morning service at Verbo Sur. What a joy it was to be part of their lively worship. I could not understand one word they said with my ears but I understood every word with my heart. It was truly beautiful to watch these very poor people who are dedicated to the Lord singing praises in Spanish to the Lord.
Pastor Jairo was also able to present 7 of the 11 people who prayed to receive Christ at the Medical Center that were at church that morning. There were also several who had come to the food distribution that were there as well.
I had the privilege of preaching that morning through an interpreter. Our team got a real kick out of Dennis (the interpreter) as he did not just repeat my words in Spanish, he mimicked every move and motion I made as well as all of the up and down inflections of my voice. Both of our interpreters as well as our bus driver was a very fun and valuable part of our trip.
On Sunday in front of his church I also presented Pastor Jairo a plaque I had made that included a stone I picked up in a creek at the Valley of Elah in Israel where David most likely picked up his stone to kill Goliath. On the plaque I had the verses in Spanish were David picks up the stone and uses it to kill Goliath. I told Pastor Jairo that my hope was that it would always remind him that there is no giant that can come into his life or ministry that is bigger than our God.
Our team gelled real well on this trip and Brent Holmes, who is the Team Lead of our Mission Team and who led the trip did an outstanding job.
It was a joy to surround Pastor Jairo and the special staff at Verbo Sur and pray for them before we left them. They will remain in our hearts, our thoughts and our prayers!
I came home with great joy in knowing that E-Free Church is making a significant difference in this poor community in Managua, Nicaragua!